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Turlock CVS target of federal probe into missing pain meds
CVS pain meds
The Turlock CVS Pharmacy on Lander Avenue is the target of an investigation into thousands of missing hydrocodone pills. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Federal agents are looking into the disappearance of thousands of pain pills from CVS stores, including a Turlock location.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency served a search warrant at the CVS store at 1621 Lander Ave. in May 2013 after it came to light the pharmacy had lost track of more than 16,000 hydrocodone pills. Hydrocodone is also known as Vicodin and Norco and can fetch up to $10 a pill when sold on the black market, according to the DEA. It is one of the most widely abused pain medications in the United States.

Agents also served search warrants at CVS stores in Modesto, Dixon and Fairfield.

All total, more than 37,000 pain pills are unaccounted for by the pharmacy chain, according to the DEA.

The investigation stems from a case at a CVS store in Ricklin that reported missing pain pills in 2012. The investigation later showed a pharmacy clerk, Krystina Johnsrud, was taking the pills. She was caught on camera hiding a bottle in her pants. She later admitted to taking more than 20,000 pain pills, the DEA reported.

On Nov. 9, 2012, the CVS on Lander Avenue submitted a form to the DEA that documented a loss of 16,317 hydrocodone tablets and listed the reason for the loss as “unknown” according to the federal search warrant filed in the investigation.

The search warrant allowed agents access to the store’s records, premises, and inventory.

Investigators believe the Lander location could have “numerous record-keeping violations” as stated in the search warrant.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Lauren Horwood said a letter outlining the violations and requesting more information was sent to CVS Caremark Corp. last month, but there has been no reply as of yet.

CVS could be facing more than 2,900 violations of the Controlled Substances Act, which could amount to a $29 million fine for the company.

The Fairfield store had around 11,000 missing pills and the Modesto and Dixon locations each reported about 5,000 unaccounted for pills.

Michael DeAngelis, a CVS spokesperson, told the Los Angeles Times that the probe is aimed at “assuring compliance with state and federal requirements for administrative record keeping related to invoices and inventory for controlled substances."